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The Diamond Jubilee Stakes

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The third race in the QIPCO British Champions Series Sprint category, Ascot’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes (renamed in 2012 in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee) is run on the last day of the Royal Meeting.

It boasts Lester Piggott as its most successful jockey and Vincent O’Brien as its most successful trainer. You can’t get much better than that. In a vote for the greatest figure in the history of horseracing conducted by the Racing Post newspaper, O’Brien came first, with his long-standing stable jockey Piggott coming second.

O’Brien was the sort of man best described by what he did not achieve rather than what he did. The Irishman, in short, dominated National Hunt racing – three Grand Nationals in a row – dominated Flat racing – training six Derby winners – then helped set up the legendary Coolmore Stud. But even he could not claim to be associated with the Golden Jubilee’s most successful horse, Prince Charlie, who won the race three times in a row from 1872.

The Diamond Jubilee is run just four days after the Kings Stand Stakes on the first day of Ascot’s Royal  Meeting, but some horses contest both races and the brilliant Australian-trained sprinter, Choisir, memorably wrote his name into the record books by winning them both in 2003.

Established in 1868 and originally known as the Cork and Orrery Stakes, the race was upgraded to Group 1 status and renamed to mark The Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, before taking on its new title of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2012.  It is open to three-year-olds or older horses and is run over 6 furlongs (1,200 metres).

In 2014 Irish trainer Edward Lynam saddled both the winner of the King’s Stand Stakes (Sole Power) and the Diamond Jubilee with Slade Power, a remarkable achievement.

Current leading jockey: Tom Queally (2009 and 2017), Ryan Moore (2016 and 2018)
Current leading trainers: Dermot Weld, 2 wins (1984, 1987); Aidan O’Brien (2010 and 2018)

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money




No/Draw Horse/Jockey Age Form/Type BHA Rating Weight Trainer Odds


Merchant Navy lands dramatic Diamond Jubilee Stakes

Many of the eight QIPCO British Champions Series at Royal Ascot this week have not quite gone to plan for Aidan and Ryan Moore but pair ended up all smiles after  Merchant Navy won a dramatic renewal of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

The colt, trained in Australia before being transferred to Ballydoyle, prevailed by a short head from the fast finishing French challenger City Light. Bound For Nowhere, from America, was three quarters of a length behind in third after setting a frantic pace with The Tin Man, fourth, best of the home team.

There was drama at the start when the brilliant Harry Angel, the 5-2 favourite, reared in the stalls  and his left hind was resting on a running board when the stalls opened. His race was effectively over before it had started an he trailed home eleventh and in need of veterinary attention.

Trainer Clive Cox said: “Harry Angel is not straightforward in the stalls, as you can see. It’s a big shame it has happened and it has affected the whole day really.

“He has a nasty puncture wound, which we are concerned enough about. He was not sound behind when he came in – he wasn’t dreadful, but he wasn’t sound. I am just sorry for everyone and it’s a shame, but I think we will be fine.

Adam Kirby, who rode him added: “He has always been a character in the stalls. I am gutted really – I just hope the horse is OK. It is no one’s fault – there is nothing you can do.”

Meanwhile, Moore was relieved his mount had come out on top. He suffered interference from Bound To Nowhere in the latter stages at the finish it was unclear who had triumphed.

“I can’t repeat what I was thinking when I hit the line,” Moore said. “Merchant Navy is a remarkable horse. He hasn’t been up here long. He has had two starts here and won them both, beating high-class fields, and he is only a young horse.

“I sat third and I didn’t really want to be third. I had to go sooner than I would have liked. The race didn’t really go to script for anybody I would have thought.

“I thought I would have won easier, but Bound For Nowhere leaned into me and we got very tight, so he lost his rhythm for a second. If I had got beat, I would have been very unlucky.”

Most bookmakers now make Merchant Navy favourite for next month’s Darley July Cup but his future is unclear.

“We were always told that he was only here for Royal Ascot because he has stallion commitments in Australia,” O’Brien said. “That’s why we were so anxious to get a run into him at the Curragh, because we knew that we might not have him after Ascot. We will have to see what happens now, but that was the plan as far as I was told. The plan might change.

The Stephane Wattel-trained and Christophe Soumillon-ridden City Light thrilled his connections. Joint-owner John Corbani said: “From the angle of the box we were in, I thought we’d won. If he hadn’t reared in the stalls at the start, it might have been different.”

Bound For Nowhere was headed late on, having drifted left and Wesley Ward said: “He wasn’t meant to be in front (early on) but I guess there wasn’t much pace. I was proud of him. To step up and be in the top three of a race like this at Royal Ascot is fantastic.”


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The Course

British horseracing can lay claim to plenty of blue-blooded connections, but none rival those of Ascot. The Berkshire racecourse’s roots go back 300 years to Queen Anne, who recognised the potential of a stretch of heath land while out riding just a few miles from Windsor Castle.

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The royal link has endured ever since. Today, Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal Family attend the world-famous ‘Royal Ascot’ meeting each year, arriving in a horse drawn carriage. Royal Ascot, meanwhile, has earned iconic status as a centrepiece of the social calendar, when the world’s best thoroughbreds face fierce competition from the world’s most extravagant fashion designs.

Ascot, which underwent a £200 million redevelopment between 2004-6, also hosts the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes sponsored by QIPCO in July, the most prestigious open-age Flat race staged in Britain.

It will also host the inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day in October which will be the richest raceday ever staged in Britain with over £4.2m in prize money and the climax to the QIPCO British Champions Series.  Including the five category finales on QIPCO British Champions Day, Ascot stages no less than 13 of the 35 QIPCO British Champions Series races.

What sort of horses like Ascot? Horses that like right-handed courses. And what sort of people? People who like champagne and scones, apparently. During the five-day Royal Ascot meeting in 2010, 60,000 bottles of champagne and 40,000 scones were consumed. Lobsters, meanwhile, don’t like Royal Ascot – 1,500 of them were eaten over that same period.

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